The Hidden Costs of Unpaid Caregiving in America

screenshot of Lisa Ling reporting

from CBS Mornings, by

Across the United States, an estimated 53 million people are unpaid caregivers, many of whom, like Ty Lewis, are part of the “sandwich generation” — simultaneously raising children and caring for aging parents.

Lewis, a social media influencer, sought support from her followers by sharing her experiences on Instagram as she cared for her mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.

“I needed community. I needed love. I needed people to be seen,” Lewis said.

Her Instagram page rapidly grew as people responded to her honesty and vulnerability.

Lewis’s mother, Gertrude, requires around-the-clock care, an all-consuming task that Lewis and her husband manage while raising their two daughters.

“Mommy requires 24-hour care, so she cannot be by herself. She is unable to do anything, so we have to assist her, going to the bathroom, getting in the bed, dressing,” said Lewis.

“It’s been very hard. We have sacrificed a lot, um, mentally, emotionally, socially, and especially financially,” she continued. Medicare, a federal health insurance program mostly for people over 65, does not cover long-term care, often leaving families like Lewis’ to fill in the financial gap for seniors who need care. Lewis’ mom was a teacher and, despite receiving a pension and Social Security, it’s still not enough to cover the costs.

Lewis revealed that last year alone, her mother’s caregiving expenses reached $90,000, with only $66,000 covered by her pension, forcing the family to supplement the rest.

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